Pre-school children aged three and four from Back to the Garden Childcare, located in Altrincham, celebrated Children’s Art Week by creating masterpieces and sharing them with residents at Ashlands Manor Care Centre in Sale.
The initiative, which takes place from Monday 29th June until Sunday 19th July, is an annual programme engineered by Engage (National Association for Gallery Education), which aims to brings people and art together.
The three week-long programme is typically very popular in schools and nurseries across the UK, but with many children still at home, for the first time Engage is encouraging parents to incorporate the event into their home-schooling.
Each week there is a special theme; the Natural World, Connecting Generations and Literacy, which is a great guide for the children.
At Back to the Garden, the children took part in a host of practical activities to create bespoke pieces of art. They made their own nature paintbrushes and used these to paint their pictures, then they collected different leaves and flowers, grass and twigs, cutting what they needed from the nursery’s garden. Finally, the children utilised all of the nature pieces to make pictures, from rainbows to rockets.
Back to the Garden staff then sent the pictures to residents at Ashlands Manor Care Centre, along with a hand-written note from the children, allowing the young and old to connect.
Zoe Bowring, deputy manager at Back to the Garden Childcare, comments: “The Natural World and being with nature is very much at the centre of our nursery’s philosophy so it was wonderful to participate in Children’s Art Week and explore that particular theme.
“The children loved doing all of the practical activities and creating their masterpieces. They utilised materials they found in the garden, and the activity allowed them to go back to nature and experience art freely.
“The nursery is part of the McGoff Group, which also operate Ashlands Manor, so it was really nice to link this activity to the care home, enabling the children to interact with the elderly residents.”
Janet Lewis, home manager at Ashlands Manor, added: “During lockdown we stopped visitors to the care home to protect our residents, so many didn’t see family and friends in person for over three months, and instead had to rely on Zoom, WhatsApp and Facetime to keep in touch with loved ones.
“Although we have re-introduced carefully monitored visits from family, receiving the pictures and notes from the children at Back to the Garden Childcare put a smile on our residents’ faces. Such a simply gesture makes a real difference to the residents, and the beautiful pieces of art are now proudly displayed throughout the home.”
Back to the Garden Childcare remained open during the lockdown period, supporting the children of key workers, and has also started to welcome back ‘bubbles’ of children, with each bubble aptly named after a flower, plant or insect.
With space for 120 children, aged from three months up to five years old, Back to the Garden is an innovative child-led, active learning environment with an emphasis on outdoor play in a stunning garden setting. Its philosophy of allowing children to be children to explore their environment, experiment with the outdoor playscape and harness their own imaginations allows for a natural approach where each child develops at their own pace.